Fire, school officials at odds over Dacus land

A game of tug-of-war is being waged over a slice of village property, wanted by both the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District and R. Roger Rowe School.

Known as the Dacus property, the 1.28-acre parcel is located on El Fuego, across the street from the school’s back parking lot and kindergarten classrooms and down the road from the fire station. Currently, there is a ranch home on the property.

On Jan. 6, the fire district sent a resolution of necessity to the Rancho Santa Fe Association, which owns the land, saying the land is needed to address the “immediate parking needs and future expansion of its operating facilities.”

Fire district officials stated that they have exhausted all other options and that the acquiring of the Dacus property is the only solution.

The district could be able to acquire the land through eminent domain, which gives public agencies the right to make a case for acquiring land if they have a higher necessity, without the owner’s permission but with monetary compensation.

The fire district did not return phone calls requesting comments.

Place to play

The fire district’s resolution caught the Rancho Santa Fe School District off guard.

Superintendent Lindy Delaney said that the school has held an interest in acquiring the property for at least 10 years.

After two bonds proposing building a new school at alternate sites failed, they started looking seriously at the Dacus property, Delaney said.

Prop. E passed in 2007, allowing them to renovate the school with what they had and look at opportunities to purchase adjacent properties like Dacus and the two lots next to it (called the Mature properties).

Delaney said they would use Dacus to add play space and help the school improve traffic circulation.

‘Best alternative’

“We still believe that this property would be best for the school and the community,” Delaney said. “We believe the children and the community need play space and fields.”

The land does not immediately figure into the Rowe renovation project that is planned to begin at the end of this school year, Delaney said. But she said they did plan to use the land as a “lay down area” for construction equipment and materials during the renovation.

“The idea that we would lose that land would put us under additional financial and time constraints that we’d like to avoid,” Delaney said.

Seeking solutions

The association has been working with both agencies to see what kind of solution can be made.

“Hopefully we can come to a peaceful resolution,” Rancho Santa Fe Association Board President Lois Jones said last week.

The association has also not been able to come to a long-term lease agreement with the fire district over the Rancho Santa Fe Patrol, whose headquarters are at the fire station.

The fire district has requested the patrol to vacate the station by April 1 as they can no longer accommodate the patrol’s parking needs in addition to their own.

No meeting has been scheduled yet that would allow the public to weigh in on the Dacus issue. The fire district’s board of directors will next meet on Feb. 11 at 1 p.m. at the station on El Fuego.